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Experiencing My City

From Rooftops to Portraits of Passersby

Immortalizing Montréal
Published on
October 6, 2017
French-born Raphaël de Pablo first arrived in Montréal barely a year ago, leaving behind a thriving career in real estate to fulfil his dream of settling in Canada. It was here, in Montréal, that he first spawned a passion for photography.

“At the outset, my plan was to live here for two years thanks to my WHV (Working Holiday Visa), but because Montréal offers such an extraordinary quality of life, I may apply to become a permanent resident. There’s no stress, no judgment. Talking to people is easier – perhaps because there’s less use of the ‘vous’ form. Nothing beats the quality of life here, and I have plenty of friends who feel the same way.”


Just over four months ago Raphaël bought a camera to capture time spent with family and friends. When he posted the photos on Instagram, however, he quickly made connections with amateur and professional photographers and went on to create a tight-knit community of shutterbugs.

“My mentor is Charles Tavernier, a photographer who taught me a great deal. Together, we created a community of Montréal photographers who get together for photo sessions. Thus far we’ve met 100 to 150 photography buffs whose only previous contact might have been online. And being surrounded by the best has allowed me to progress fairly quickly.”

Inconnu croisé dans la rue

In the beginning, Raphaël favoured high-elevation shots at sunrise or sunset – “the only time of day l had to indulge my passion” – but he soon discovered the intensity that portraits of strangers on the street could convey.

“I was climbing down from a roof when I saw a homeless man asking for change. I offered to take his picture and when I showed it to him, he was so happy! I loved the experience. I love when a photo conveys a message or an emotion. We walk past these people living on the margins, and we don’t even see them anymore. When you take a picture of them, you bear witness to their lives.”

In October, Raphaël will present an exhibition showcasing the talents of eight photographers met during the collective “photo shoots.” And here’s where de Pablo’s is drawing on his business instincts.

“The first exhibition takes place at Boris Bistro on October 16. We hope to hold one such event per month, with eight guest photographers each time. People will be able to order a photograph on site, in the desired dimension, framed or not, and the photo will be delivered to their homes.”

Follow Raphaël de Pablo on Instagram